Monday, April 30, 2007

News and Blogs Together, April 30, 2007

  • Another analysis of the recent "solution" to CA's prison problems, from the Christian Science Monitor (and "solution" is their word). While the article does get that CA has found its “solution” now and anything else is unlikely, there is so much wrong here besides what Barb Tombs notes and proclaiming her director of Vera. No one has ever shown that guidelines are the best policy option, only that they are better than what CA just did. The states with effective incarceration rate reduction also, coincidentally, put a lot of resources and support into community alternatives, and you would get far more bedspace reduction with either developing technocorrections or putting counties on vouchers that limit prison availability for the offenders they sentence. But the worst thing wrong here is the continued mythology that prisons are “tough on crime.” They are tough on criminals. Crime does pretty well compared to the other things that we can do that stop it better, and the continued concurrence that prisons are tough on it only feeds the false perception that reforms will endanger public safety. Until we get straight on that, we might as well forget having serious change in the cost-ineffective way we protect the public and potential victims. Meanwhile, at least some of the CA media understand what’s happening there (h/t Real Cost of Prisons).
  • We talk here a lot about the inadequacy and dangers of eyewitness testimony. Empirical Legal Studies finds an interesting article on reform of the process in MA here.
  • Perhaps such testimony will be more helpful with this self-administered interview tool for witnesses at the crime scene which reportedly helps victims and witnesses do over 40% better at reducing "memory decay" than those who don't use it.
  • Expect to see related research in Deliberations, a new blog on"law, news, and thoughts on juries and jury trials" which Psychology and Crime News tips us to, along with its current topics being posted.
  • New drug to watch out for. A club drug with 1-benzylpiperazine (really) that has sent some young folks to emergency rooms. Originally developed for veterinary use (really). Manufacturer says 20 m. of their pills were consumed in New Zealand with no deaths or "significant long term injuries." Another scare drug or actually a serious one? Guess we'll find out. Meth's sorta fading.
  • Wait, no, it isn't. Another story on how the local meth entrepreneurs have been run out of business, to be replaced by Mexican sources, which are just a tad different to police, this time in AR (Arkansas, not Arizona). Think we've forgotten marijuana here? Of course not. Scientists are finding through MRIs the areas of the brain affected by pot, implicating it in schizophrenia and psychosis if used heavily. Maybe they can use this study of how pharmaceutical treatment of dopamine -related illnesses like schizophrenia (and Parkinson's) can cause people to adopt impulsive, risk-seeking behavior. You know what this means--TECHNOCORRECTIONS!!!
  • Finally, at Prevention Works, enlightening info on cyberstalking and, as usual, what you can do to protect yourself. It's Lifetime made-for-tv movie scary, but this is true stuff. Give them the hit they deserve.

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